Today, the economics of importing UO2 fuel are down to less than $50-a-year to drive a car 12,000 miles.
Compare this $50 to 600 gallons of gas. At $2/gallon to import (= $85/barrel) and 20 mpg that is $1,200-a-year-at-import. Make it $2,400-a-year at the retail pump for your passenger car.
$50 versus $1,200.
That's the cost differential to America for importing these fuels at port of entry.
Electric plants cost a bit more than refineries, maybe by a skosh, but at worst that's Americans doing the work. The country's not hurt a bit by it -- not with these unemployment percentages.
$3.46 versus $20.
That's cost for driving a Tesla 100 miles on electricity vs.driving a typical gasoline car.
For now the extra power for electric cars will be generated mostly at night. We have years to build out capacity. Uranium is as plentiful as tin. The earth has a billion years of proven reserves, going beyond cheap "yellowcake" deposits.
Kyshtym, Chernobyl, TMI, Fukushima -- there have been major accidents. But clearly the engineering has gotten far better over the decades. Combine uranium fuel and today's electric cars -- this offers decisive advantages over gasoline powered cars. MoreBTF :::
How's about letting the Chinese and the Indians and everybody else put gasoline in their cars ?
But not us. Not for ever.
We have 104 nuclear plants. We know how to run them. We are able to do this, not that there are not risks to be managed nukes.
Kyshtym in 1957 was as bad as Chernobyl. Russian submarines? Every one of the early ones was a death trap. Three Mile Island showed what a bad instrument package can do to you. But then this Fukushima crisis shows us that a 1980s design, old, near retirement could be hit with a pipe-snapping 50-foot tsunami and not do much worse than leaking some radioactive water.
The engineering got a whole lot better. Much MSM anti-nuke info is propaganda.
-- Fact is, used uranium fuel is easy to store, if you're talking about a 200 to 500 year planning horizon. The aim should be toward planning better solutions later on.
-- We know how to avoid "cost saving" managerial and political interference with the engineering design process.
-- We can standardize plant construction to specify very long "passive cooling" to prevent melt downs in extended emergencies.
-- We don't have to go cheap on construction. We're not Communist Russia. We can standardize basic designs, safety features.
The fuel cost advantage -- the Import Burden advantage --from using nuclear powered electricity to replace petroleum for cars is at least two-dozen-to-one.
The cost calculations take arithmetic. Not calc or diff-e. No partition theory. No Wall Street quant work. Not rocket science:
One basic project, here, is to see what it takes to run electric cars.
-- U.S. electricity production = 4,000 million megawatt-hours
-- Nuclear power = 20% = 800 million megawatt-hours
Consider the arithmetic of going to electric cars:
-- One electric vehicle consumes about 15 kilowatt-hours per day. Times 365 days that multiplies to 5.4 megawatt-hours per year.
-- Powering 1,000,000 electric cars sounds great. This adds 5.4 million megawatt-hours/year as a drain on the total power system.
-- Powering 10,000,000 electric cars adds 54 million megawatts-hours/year to the power demand.
-- Powering 100,000,000 electric cars adds 540 million megawatt-hours/year to demand.
(Despite an earlier personal misstep combining cut-and-paste with arithmetic in a benighted comment, doing millions of cars with existing power plants is doable. The night time power gird is not shattered. Recharging at night avoids having to add more power plants for decades.)
A battery powered electric car converts kilowatt-hours from the power grid into mechanical energy at an efficiency of over 80%. A battery powered Tesla car can take one slug of kilowatt-hour electricity -- equivalent to a gallon of gasoline -- and go 96 miles.
Electrics are efficient. Gas engines, not in the same class.
-- 32.91 kilowatt-hours of electrical energy equals the energy in one gallon of gas.
-- The market cost consumers pay for kilowatt-hours is about $ 0.10 which means you pay $3.29 to drive 96 miles in a one-gallon-equivalent-charged Tesla.
-- Make that 100 miles to ease calculations. The cost goes to $3.46.
-- Average gas car gets ~20 mpg at $4 a gallon = $20 for the same 100 mile Tesla trip.
$3.46 at the wall plug
$20.00 at the pump
Do the power capacity expansion wholly with nukes and we can start to kiss off Halliburton, the Bush-kissing Saudis, Saudi-kissing Bushes, and move to hit zero on balance of payments in-flow/outflow.
How's that for left/right/center patriotism ?!
Multiply out for a car lifetime at a modest 100,000 miles:
$3,460 at the wall plug
$20,000 at the pump
How's about that ???
The country is better off for import/export finance. Drivers are better off at personal finance.
Of course, batteries add to cost. But the electrics will not need to have new transmissions and exhaust pipes and mufflers. The possibility of a 500,000 mile electric car comes to mind -- a roomy old Mercedes 200 taxi would serve nicely. One could make such a car quite comfortable.
More seriously, risks for nukes are far lower today than 30 years ago.
Modern nukes have designs that extend the "passive cooling" function for fuel rods to deal with power and maintenance interruptions. If you want a 30-day "passive" safety parameter for power-out situations that adds less than 0.1% to the cost of building the power plant
Of course there's no way to plan for every possibility. A meteor could hit a plant. A plane could crash. Worst that's going to come out of Fukushima is an exclusion area at the NPP in Japan, long term.
We can survive a nasty tsunami hitting one of our coastal nukes. Even if our guys learn nothing from Fukushima, we can survive it.
We cannot even plausibly keep paying out for the gasoline.
We are debtors. We have been damn fools electing the like of George Bush and going along with our Federal Reserve for two massive Big Bubbles (1994-2000, 2003-2008) and a rather long list of practical insanities. What we deserve more than not, collectively, is a debtors' prison.
We have plutocracy-sucking Republicans infesting the House and the Senate. And several similar Democrats.
We are getting our credit downgraded -- our interest payments increased -- soon as these Republican cockroaches drag their bribery-motels down to screw the Debt Limit Extension. Worked for them and their bankers in 1994 -- squeezes more money for the bankster Treasuries-buyers. Follies require payment.
We cannot stay with gasoline. We cannot afford a "global" military. These are follies, gone too far.
We can do the nukes. We can do the electric cars. Sooner better than when we have overwhelmed ourselves with foreign exchange fantasy and debt.
With this kind of money involved, multiplied by the millions and millions of Americans, why not ? Fear, by itself... no.
What else ?